A sad day in Britain

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Prince Harry, third in line for the British crown, was outed in Afghanistan last week while serving with the British Army.

Prince Harry, third in line for the British crown, was outed in Afghanistan last week while serving with the British Army.
Some heavy praise went Harry's way for serving his people and those of Afghanistan while heavy condemnation fell at the feet of both the Internet tabloid The Drudge Report and members of the media by the army's chief of general staff, Sir Richard Dannett, for defying what he called an agreement with the media not to reveal the prince's whereabouts.
To paraphrase, Dannett was disappointed foreign websites posted the story without asking for permission. Perhaps more disappointing is that British media allowed a military general to dictate their position in the first place.
Like philosophy, journalists wrestle with notions of truth and the ideal of just what exactly is news. With as many interpretations as there are journalists, the concept of news must be weighed against value: What is the value of printing a story compared to the value of not running a story? Undoubtedly British media contended with this debate when the army called on them to keep mum about Harry's whereabouts and service.
There is a romantic notion to the wartime prince sitting in the trenches shoulder-to-shoulder with the paupers and perhaps this is what captured the British media's sympathy and even that of the military itself. But from an outsider's point of view, independent of the British media and the British military, it's hard to fathom why the prince's presence in Afghanistan was awarded secrecy. Given the level of security that would draw resources from the military just for the prince to join the enlisted seems news in itself. That such a huge bulls-eye for the Taliban was out and about, also, seems like a story of reckless abandon on behalf of the military. The military bent over backwards to accommodate a prince - and then asked independent media to do the same - that's news.
Perhaps in the future the monarchy can resume its role as ambassadors instead of allocating resources to demonstrate they're not immune from their nation's foreign policy. In doing so we can only hope that the British media can resume it's role of reporting instead of hand picking the facts.

Organizations: Harry's, British Army, Taliban

Geographic location: Afghanistan, Britain

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